What was the most important reason that Stalin rose to power? Essay
What was the most important reason that Stalin rose to power?
By 1927 Stalin had gained full political power in Russia. One reason why he was able to come to power is when Trotsky failed to attend Lenin’s funeral in 1924. This is because when Trotsky didn’t turn up it made Stalin look as though he cared for Lenin instead of Trotsky. Lenin was popular with many people and they were sad that he was now dead. Stalin was able to take advantage of this and tell everyone what a great man Lenin was. If he got support because he looked as though he cared he would become more popular. Trotsky, on the other hand, looked as though he didn’t care because he was not able to get to the funeral. Later he claimed that Stalin had told him that the funeral was on a different date. But this didn’t affect Stalin’s status because nobody knew that he had done it.
The fact that Stalin helped carry the coffin and that he made the main speech is ironic because the year before in 1923, Lenin had written a Testament, clarifying his view about every Member of Parliament. In this, Lenin wrote that Stalin had already got too much power and that he was not trust worthy, “I am not sure that he will always know how to use that power with sufficient caution”. The link between these two events is important because if anybody had seen the Testament before the funeral they would have thought differently about Stalin and he wouldn’t have been able to carry on in the Party and as General Secretary. It also proves that Stalin was using Lenin’s funeral as a publicity stunt and wasn’t that serious about what he had said. This is also why he told Trotsky not to come so he would get all the power to himself.
After the funeral a committee was held to find out what the Testament said and who should take power, as Lenin had said nothing in his will. The Testament would have been read and Stalin’s secrets revealed but a Party Member named Zinoviev said that Stalin’s behaviour had greatly improved since all the accusations so the Testament was left. But anyone who read the script could have said that Lenin had a grudge against Stalin and not all of it was true. This is why the Testament is not that important because if it had been read out Stalin could claim these things were wrong and in the long term it would not have made much difference to his political standings. In fact Lenin did have a grudge against Stalin because he didn’t like the way he had treated the National Representative of Georgia.
Another important event is when in 1925 Trotsky was sacked as War Commissar. As War Commissar he was in charge of the Red Army and could use them for different needs. They were his power. When they were taken away from him he didn’t have much power at all and was easily manipulated. This is more important because it helped Stalin and it meant one less opposer and his main threat to power was gone. Stalin was able to make Trotsky weak because at the first Party Congress he joined with Zinoviev and Kamenev who shared the same ideas as Trotsky but disliked him and were worried he would become dictator. This way they threw him out in 1927.
Now Trotsky was out of the way and Stalin needed to get other main threats out of the way, such as Zinoviev and Kamenev by provoking quarrels between the two. He also had an advantage because his rivals saw each other as more of a threat than himself. He decided to join forces with Bukharin so he could kick the others out as well. The reason he did this was because Bukharin was one of the main influences in the party. Stalin knew that if he could get him on his side then he could get power more easily. Bukharin was convinced that the NEP was the best way forward and so it worked fine. This way Stalin used Bukharin to make himself powerful. People supported Bukharin because he had good ideas and so if Stalin allied with him he would be popular too.
This is important because by this time Stalin’s only threat was Bukharin and he had already got rid of Trotsky. There was now not much in the way of Stalin and his route to power and all he had to do now was to use Bukharin to get rid of Zinoviev and Kamenev and then turn on Bukharin himself. If Stalin had not used Bukharin to get power then he would probably have been pushed out of the party by others such as Trotsky. He would have been able to do this because he had the control of the Red Army. If public support went the wrong way for him he could seize power by using them to gain support for himself even if it was against the will of other members of the party.
Stalin managed to turn on Bukharin in 1929 and other right-wing MP’s. By using Bukharin to gain power he attacked the NEP and had them removed from their posts. Stalin did this by gaining support for himself and then when Bukharin least expected it Stalin overpowered him and voted him out of the Party. Now Stalin was basically undisputed leader of the Communist Party.
This is important because this meant that Stalin had gained power successfully. But this event is not as important as the others because by this time Stalin did not have much of an opposition to defeat. Nobody thought that Bukharin could gain power so he was just left alone. Stalin didn’t need to do much to get him kicked out of the elections. This event can also link with when Stalin kicked Trotsky, Zinoviev and Kamenev out of the party because in all three incidents he was using other people’s power to make himself look bigger than he was, thus being able to take power. In this situation the road was cleared for Stalin and all he had to do was to get rid of one man.
Now Stalin had taken power he diverted his attention away from Party affairs and turned it to a new scheme to get Russia out of problems. The first five year plan was devised. The five year plan was supposed to re-industrialise Russia and create a self-sufficient, stable country after the problems that were caused during the civil war and the aftermath of what the Tsar left behind. Planned by Stalin and his advisors the five year plan began to industrialise Russia.
Although from an external point of view this sounds good Stalin was actually using slave labour and prisoners to get the work done efficiently. If workers were in short supply then he would just go and arrest more people. Stalin’s terror was not only meant to bully the people into doing what he wanted but to create a virtually free work force for himself. If workers didn’t want to work then he would cut their rations or take away their homes to get what he really wanted out of them. But in some cases these tactics slowed Russia’s production instead of increasing it.
But although Stalin was terrorising the people some of the policies he came up with might have worked quite well. For example instead of the peasants farming on small farms producing for themselves and getting a small profit from the market the government decided to produce collective farms. These were much bigger farms that were able to produce much more and a certain amount was given to the government. Unfortunately the peasants felt cheated and the idea didn’t work as well as it should have and instead of taking small amounts of produce the government took large amounts and the peasants weren’t left with much food at all. In fact a group called the “Kulaks” or rich peasants were almost wiped out because no food was able to circulate as most of it was taken by the government. As payment for such a harsh treatment they decided to burn their farms so the government couldn’t get so much out of them.
This is all important because it is interesting that as Stalin made his way up the political hierarchy he used tactics that worked well but always at someone else’s disadvantage. When he finally came to power something needed to be done about Russia’s marketing problems. Stalin’s method of reorganising Russia was more or less the right one to choose but the way he implemented it was not so good. This is because he used too much force to make people do what he wanted them to do. If Stalin had used less power to do what he was doing then the worker’s would have listened to him and the plan would have worked. The people didn’t want to work because they were being bullied into what they had to do. If they had had a little more freedom then they might not have been so sceptical about the idea of handing everything they produced to the government.
But this is not the most important reason why Stalin rose to power because this wasn’t very popular with many people and he was already terrorising them to do what he wanted. Stalin lost popularity in Russia especially in the lower classes and the peasants. This was because all their food was taken away from them and they weren’t paid for working but were used as slaves by the government to create more produce in things like grain, coal, and steel.
But I think that the most important reason that helped Stalin’s rise to power was when Stalin managed to get Trotsky sacked as War Commissar in 1925. This is because Trotsky was Stalin’s only real threat from the beginning and when he was kicked out Stalin only had to get rid of a few other minor people who although were useful to him to gain support were not a threat to him. Trotsky was a threat because not only was he a main power in the party and an influence all around Russia but because he had control over the Red Army. If support fell for him and people revolted then he could use the Red Army to crush uprisings and to bully people into supporting him. Without the Red Army Trotsky was not able to do much in the way of influence in the Party. Stalin was able to do this by two methods. The first is Lenin’s funeral, Stalin made it look as though Trotsky did not care about Lenin and that lost him support all around Russia. The second is that he was constantly trying to out do Trotsky and with persistence was able to do so.
The reason why Trotsky’s failure to attend Lenin’s Funeral was not the main reason is because it was only one event on one day. By this I mean that although support was lost for Trotsky after the Funeral, support for him was not low enough to make it that important. If Stalin had not persisted then support for Trotsky may have risen again in the next few months.
After the funeral when Lenin’s Testament was to be read could have been important but it did not bring enough evidence against Stalin to make him unpopular. In the months before Lenin’s death he was not himself and suffered from a number of illnesses. Stalin could have used the argument that Lenin was not in his right mind or that he had a grudge against him. Therefore this was dismissed and Stalin was able to carry on in the party without any problems.
In 1926 when Stalin allied with Bukharin to defeat Zinoviev and Kamenev was not the most important reason because they were not main powers in the party and although at first shared the same ideas as Stalin did not help him in to power because the only thing that could have stopped him was the testament and not even that was greatly important. Stalin used Bukharin to make himself more popular but although Bukharin was known for good ideas again was not a big enough influence to attack Stalin.
In 1929 when Bukharin was expelled from the party Stalin now grasped at power but although it helped him to get Bukharin out of the way it is not as important as when he got rid of Trotsky because if Stalin had not been able to get rid of him then he would have found it hard or even impossible to get rid of Bukharin and all his other rivals.
The only event that has more importance than the rest is when Stalin kicked out Trotsky and he used effective tactics to get rid of him. This event is the reason why Stalin was able to come to power because it helped him greatly. People didn’t realise how much power he had and he used it to his advantage.
University/College: University of Chicago
Type of paper: Thesis/Dissertation Chapter
Date: 3 September 2017
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